By Angel Verdejo

The Cove Herald

BELTON - They have been asked about it for weeks. Now the Copperas Cove Lady Bulldawgs can finally talk about it. At least they can without a qualifier in front.

The much-anticipated rematch between Cove and first-place A&M Consolidated is tonight.

"I feel good - we've had good practices and everybody's improving." Cove head coach Cari Lowey said.

"We're going to have to play great and I expect them to play great, and it may be another five-game, 36-34 game, but we can do if we take care of business. We can do it."

Added senior setter Amy Rosenbaum: "It's really a do-or-die - Friday. If we're going to be co-champions or district champions, it all depends on (tonight)."

Cove took care of the last hurdle, sweeping Belton on the road Tuesday (25-19, 25-18, 25-16).

With the win, the Lady Dawgs (31-8) improve to 11-1 in District 12-5A. The lone loss was at the hands of A&M Consolidated - a five-game defeat in College Station three weeks ago.

A&M Consolidated has yet to lose in 12-5A play, going 12-0 on Tuesday with a sweep over Temple. The defending district champions lost just one 12-5A match last year - a back-and-forth thriller in Cove.

It was the Lady Dawgs' first win over the perennial power under Lowery, now in her eighth year at Cove.

"All I remember is the last play of the game," Rosenbaum said. "That's kind of the energy we want to bring into the next game with them, especially since it's on our turf now."

Said Andrea Hurt, one of four regulars from last year's team, "We have to hold up to a little bit of a legacy now."

Despite the sweep Tuesday, Belton (5-29, 1-11) didn't give the match away. The Lady Dawgs, after quickly scoring the match's opening five points, needed a late run to take Game 1.

Things only got a little more interesting from there.

The Lady Tigers actually controlled Game 3 at one point. They led 4-1 before Cove tied the game, only to see Belton jump back on top, 6-5. At that point, the Lady Tigers scored three straight points to force a Cove timeout, then three of the next four to go up 12-6.

They held the 6-point advantage through 14-8, getting a pair of aces and a Brieanna Brown kill for Belton's 14th point.

But Cove answered.

A Rosenbaum block - one of four on the night - and a Belton hitting error forced Coulson to take a timeout. It didn't stop Cove, as the Lady Dawgs scored the next seven points to turn the 6-point deficit into a 17-14 lead.

A service error temporarily stopped the rally. Cove came back with eight of the match's final nine points to finish the sweep. Hurt, who only registered one kill in Game 1, had four in the final run to finish with 10.

"We should have played better but we won in three," Lowery said. "I'm okay with that at this point. We needed to be pushed like that. Belton pushed A&M last week."

Copperas Cove def. Bryan, 25-18, 25-18, 28-26 (Oct. 14) - At Bryan, a week before meeting first-place A&M Consolidated, the Lady Bulldawgs took care of the Lady Tigers' Brazos Valley neighbor in a quick three-game sweep.

Cove got a trio of double-digit dig finishers along its back row, led by libero Claire Taylor's 20. Brittney Johnson and Arielle Garcia both tallied 14 digs each in the win. Amy Rosenbaum added 45 assists.

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